Teacher Q & A: I Keep Running Out of Time to Finish My Lessons…Help!

Teacher Q & A: I Keep Running Out of Time to Finish My Lessons…Help!

Question:I keep running out of time to finish my lessons each day. This means that the next day I have to finish up what was left over and then try to finish the day’s lessons. I am getting more and more behind and I am feeling very overwhelmed.  Help!

Answer: Oh gosh…I totally relate to what you are saying.  This is a really common issue – and it’s solvable!

Here are several things that have worked for me and many other teachers.  They are super simple, but if you do them religiously everyday, you’ll see the long-term effect!  Here you go:

Step 1: During lesson planning, note how long you want each component of your lesson to take.

For example,

  • Introduction to new science concept – 3 minutes
  • Watch youtube video of process – 2 minutes
  • Read Chapter 7 with students in partner + take notes – 25 minutes

I find that I tend to overtalk during lessons (shocker!) and this keeps me focused on how long I want each section of the lesson to take.  I find that the lesson gets out of whack time-wise in the smallest moments…and those moments add up!

Step 2: Keep a timer while you teach.

I find that I lose myself in the lesson.  That’s a great thing, but can also be a time killer and time waster!  So, I keep a timer and set it for each portion of the lesson. This keeps me from thinking that I have a ton more time than I actually have! If the timer buzzes and I am still teaching, I will rely on the next step…

Step 3: Note for each portion of your lesson what you absolutely HAVE to teach and what would BE NICE.

During my lesson planning I determine what I absolutely HAVE to teach (what is required for the most important skills to be mastered) and what can be dumped if I am running short of time.  I don’t make a habit of it, but I give myself a little ‘out’ when I need it.  The real deal is that not every moment of the lesson is the most crucial and by determining what the fluff is from the most important skill work, I can prioritize as I need to.

You’ll see that a lot of what I do to manage my time takes place in lesson planning.  I find that the more detailed I am in my planning, the better pacing I have during the lesson and less content that I fold over into the next day.

If you liked this post, then you’d probably really like this book I’ve written on the same topic, too!

Q&A: What Should I Look For As I Hire a New Coach?

Q&A: What Should I Look For As I Hire a New Coach?

Question: Do you have anything in your “toolbox” that would help a district to select their in-house coach.  What are the characteristics they should or shouldn’t look for?

My Answer:

  • Excellent, clear communicator
  • Highly skilled and disciplined teacher
  • Superb classroom manager
  • Quick learner
  • Very organized and can keep a detailed calendar
  • Highly relational
  • Does not give up on things or people when the going gets rough
  • Able to read social situations and people (this is crucial and often overlooked)
  • Has boundaries and is not afraid to say no

I used to give a list of tangible, skill driven things that the coach had to be able to do.  A lot of it was content driven and about what they “knew” not just who they “were.”  I think this is a really big mistake, which is why I have changed my tune!  This list shows the type of person who is likely to be a successful coach…the rest can be learned!

Question on Sharing a New Direction with Staff {Principal}

Question on Sharing a New Direction with Staff {Principal}

I received this question from a Facebook principal friend of mine:  Hey Jill! I’m a  principal who is about to embark on a new adventure with my staff. My hope is to create an atmosphere of professional growth from peer observations, feedback and administrative observations. I’m going to begin with a staff meeting that shows where we have some improvement needs. Any suggestions or words of wisdom before I roll this out?

Here was my response: My best advice is to give very specific examples of what needs changing and why. Bad example: We need to be more collaborative. Good example: We need to stop correcting papers and having side convos during our team meetings. Instead, I would like you to take notes in your team notebook and rotate the team lead responsibilities every week so that we use our time wisely and are on the same page with implementing new ideas. When you want them to stop doing something, be sure to give them a behavior to replace it with. Break a leg!

How Do I Get My Teachers to See Me As Coach, Not Just Administrator?

I was speaking to a group of administrators last week in Utah and I got to do one of my most favorite things during the “off” times: just sit and chit chat with people!  I think I end up learning so much by just listening to what principals are asking and what they are struggling with.  One of the question that came up was, “How do I get my teachers to see me as a coach hem in times when I am not their evaluator?”

My answer to the guys I was talking to was this: you can’t.

I am not even sure that that’s even what we want to do, really.  I mean they always need to see you as the administrator and evaluator, so you don’t want to confuse people by changing your role.  But what I think we are really asking in this case is how do I approach my teachers in a way that allows them to be open about improving their teaching?

Here are a few of the things that I shared with the administrators at my table.  Note: They’re small moves, but make a big impact on teachers and help them to feel more comfortable with us as we give feedback:

  1. Tell teachers that you will always be their administrator, but there are times you will be working in collaboration with them about the quality of their teaching and that this will look a lot like coaching
  2. Determine a structure for your coaching that is not the same as the evaluation form or process
  3. Tell the teacher that you will provide feedback to them and suggest things they need to change, but that you are not officially documenting this in their file
  4. Just be trustworthy and keep your word…if you say you’re not going to officially document, then don’t!  If you say that you’re going to show up at 2:40 for an observation, then do! (Trust is so simply built, really!)

How can this information help further refine the coach as administrator relationship for you?